On a recent visit to Milwaukee, I met a Scottish rugby player over breakfast at a local B&B. He most certainly didn't seem like the image of a hooligan that sometimes gets associated with the sport, but I admit I didn't get to see him play. However, as I got to know him, I learned that the local pub can be an extension of the game. He told me that as a coach, he teaches young players that it's important to meet after the match with your opponent and share a few beers -- in a show of camaraderie and good sportsmanship. To him I hoist a pint of of Hooligan, a new limited summer brew from Sprecher Brewery.
What is it? Hooligan from Sprecher Brewery of Glendale, Wisconsin.
Style: Hooligan is an English pale ale. The style is typically a deep golden to copper-amber color, medium-bodied with firm bitterness in aroma and flavor. English pale ales often have an herbal hop character, while the American pale ale is known for its citrus and resiny character, from the use of U.S.-grown hops. The style originates in the city of Burton-upon-Trent, where the region's very hard water enhances the hop bitterness. The style will range from 4.5% to 5.5% ABV.
Background: Hooligan is a new beer for Sprecher, in its "Session Series" of limited production brews. It was initially released in late May for American Craft Beer Week in Milwaukee, and more recently won a bronze medal in the 2012 U.S. Open Beer Championships.
Hooligan is made with two-row pale and caramel malts. Ahtanum and Cascade hops are added to the boil, while Sterling and Goldings whole cone hops are added to the lagering tanks. Hooligan finishes at 57 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) and 4.8% ABV. It sells in 22-ounce bottles for around $7. Its release has been mainly focused in Milwaukee and Madison.
- Aroma: A light floral and citrus aroma.
- Appearance: Clear copper body and a thick tan head.
- Texture: Medium-bodied with a round mouthfeel.
- Taste: A light malty start, yet the solid bitterness comes in quickly and stays around.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Ends with a mild yet firm lingering dryness that is distinctive.
Glassware: The English pint glass is a nod to tradition and a great way to appreciate the beer's color and effervescence. Its assertive hoppy aroma and dryness stand up well in the wide mouth of this style of glass.
Pairs well with: The mild, yet firm latent dryness of Hooligan goes well with cheese. Try it with an aged goat Gouda style. It is also a good complement to roasted meats, especially prime rib.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Verdict: Hooligan has a nice malty start that quickly gives way to the floral and citrus hoppiness of the Cascade and Ahtanum hops. The lingering dry finish really stands out. The hoppiness isn't over the top, and it combines with a 4.8% ABV to make this a very drinkable and sessionable beer. I also like the 22-ounce bottle size, which is well suited to sharing over a meal.